Thursday, February 9, 2012

Maintaining the neighborhood’s tennis courts is crucial

While I’m no expert on this issue, I have had experience as a homeowners’ association board member in two different neighborhoods in Atlanta: one in Towne Lake and one in Marietta. A community’s tennis courts is one of its most valuable assets and, as such, they must be kept in good shape whether the neighborhood fields a competitive league (e.g. USTA or ALTA) tennis team or not because the value of every home in the subdivision is affected by the condition of its amenities.

In general, hard-court surfaced tennis courts have to be repaired and/or resurfaced every few years. There are many different types of hard-court surfaces, two with which I’m most familiar. Most Atlanta area hard courts that I’ve seen or played on are fairly standard and, over time, develop cracks because of contraction during the colder winter months and expansion during the warmer spring and summer seasons. Companies that install and maintain hard courts have various techniques – with associated warranties – for repairing cracks before they resurface the courts. Then, the surface of a tennis court is just 3 coats of acrylic paint, which is why most courts have signs dictating the type of shoes to be worn, and prohibiting skates, skateboards, or bikes etc. on them.

A premium hard court has a cushioned layer between the hard surface and the paint layers. This relatively pricey initial expense provides protection against cracking such that resurfacing without repairing cracks is possible most of the time. Therefore, instead of paying tens of thousands of dollars every 5 years for crack fixing AND resurfacing, a neighborhood with premium hard courts may only pay for resurfacing, which can be as low as a few thousand dollars per court. Caveat – I have no experience with clay courts, but obviously know that their maintenance is even more involved (and expensive).

Obviously it’s best to have a multi-year plan and a budget - vs. the occasional assessment - for these types of expenses, if your community collects annual homeowners’ association dues. It’s also important to remember that the maintenance of the tennis courts’ surface is not the only financial consideration regarding this amenity. There are several other ‘consumable’ items which must be planned for, from annual items such as rollers/squeegees – at least one for each court/year – to nets, windscreens, lights, benches, and fences which, along with the light poles, need to be repainted occasionally. Plus, there are other court accessories which can be damaged (or disappear) like scoreboards, numbers, garbage cans etc.

If a swim/tennis neighborhood has one or multiple ALTA and/or USTA teams, its residents should be aware that there are 10 to 20 visitors to its community on any given weekend – year-round in Atlanta – to play league tennis matches. Every one is a potential homebuyer, a future resident! Therefore, it is very important to keep the tennis court amenity in the best condition possible, including the restroom facilities that these (currently) non-residents may use.

Even if one is not a tennis player, or doesn't have one's home on the market, a community resident should be aware of the importance of a well-maintained tennis amenity ... and perhaps the fact that there are upwards of 80,000 league players in our metropolitan area!

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